DTE: Most Areas in Ferndale Should Have Power by Tonight
The number of customers without power has dropped to about 4,100 Thursday morning from 5,000 Wednesday evening.
Slowly but surely power is coming back on for Ferndale residents and businesses that lost their service Wednesday evening.
At the peak of the outage, nearly 5,000 DTE Energy customers in Ferndale were without power. Thursday morning, that number had been chipped away to 4,100.
"All available crews are working," DTE spokesman John Austerberry said. "They have been at this for five or six days now."
DTE expects to have most areas in Ferndale restored by the evening, Austerberry said.
As the region swelters in this week's record heat wave, the power system has been running at full capacity. "It's like leaving your car running, at top speed, days and days on end," Austerberry said. "Even the most perfect system would see problems."
The DTE Energy substation on West Nine Mile Road experienced an "equipment problem" Wednesday afternoon due to the strain on the system, Austerberry said. All of the outages in Ferndale were related to this issue, he said. He was unsure if it was a cable or a transformer problem. A substation is the point where electricity enters at an extremely high – and unusable – voltage and is stepped down, or reduced, to send out for customer use.
Along with the 4,100 customers without power in Ferndale mid-day Thursday, DTE has about 20,000-25,000 residents and businesses without service across the region, Austerberry said.
The outage comes at a time when the National Weather Service is predicting a 100-degree day and dangerous heat index as high as 111 degrees. Due to the outage and the heat, the city of Ferndale has opened the Gerry Kulick Community Center for those looking to cool off. Water, Gatorade and a lunch for $3 for 55 and up and $6 for everyone else will be served this afternoon.
The city also opened the Kulick Center on Wednesday evening as an all-night cooling center for those without power. About 20 people took advantage of the center.
The high temperatures and power outage is not only an inconvenience for customers, but DTE crews also have to work in the excessive heat.
"Crews not only have to wear long sleeves and long pants, but a heavy protection clothing when dealing with the electricity," Austerberry said. "There has to be a little bit of balance between acting quickly to restore power and staying healthy."
He equipment is routinely tested for reliability, Austerberry said. "At 80, 85 degrees, the system will hold up," he said. Adding that as it gets hotter, the system becomes more strained.
During the hottest parts of the day, DTE has fewer options to work with when restoring power because the system is still working hard. "As the weather cools, that gives us more options to get things going again," Austerberry said.